Best Composting Toilet – 2021 Best Options Reviewed

| Last Updated: December 13, 2021

Composting toilets offer a practical alternative to a conventional toilet system. They use little to no water and do not require a sewage hookup. This is because they rely on the natural process of decomposition to eliminate toilet waste, organic material, and unpleasant odors. For this reason, a composting toilet is the ideal solution for anyone that lives off-grid, on a boat, RV, or has any other living arrangement where a traditional flushing toilet is not an option!

To help you choose the perfect option, we are going to review five of the best composting toilets on the market today!

Comparison of the Best Composting Toilets

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Operates on either battery or solar power
  • Weight: 30 lbs
  • Max Weight Capacity: 330 lbs
View Latest Price →
  • Best Portable Composting Toilet for the Money
  • Weight: 25 lbs
  • Max Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
View Latest Price →
  • Best Composting Toilet for RV and Off-Grid
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Max Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
View Latest Price →
  • Smallest Composting Toilet
  • Weight: 10.8 lbs
  • Max Weight Capacity: 330 lbs
View Latest Price →

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Composting Toilet

To help you choose the right self-contained composting toilet, let’s go over some important factors you should consider before you make a purchase decision.

Odor Management

Odor management should always be a concern whenever you are considering a composting toilet. Where a conventional toilet can wash away toilet waste so you no longer have to smell it, the composting process works differently by trapping the organic waste. The last thing you want is to have to deal with unpleasant smells while your composting unit does its magic. The best portable toilets should trap odors and have useful deodorizing features that help to eliminate them completely, just like a food compost bin.

Waste Capacity

Waste capacity almost speaks for itself. You will not want to buy a composting toilet that has limited capacity for waste, or you will have to empty it far more frequently. Consider how many people will be using the toilet and how frequently you will be in the location with the toilet. This will inform your decision when it comes time to decide how big your composting toilet needs to be. 

For example, a composting toilet on a boat that is only used by one or two people a few times per year will require a much smaller capacity than a composting toilet in an off-grid home that has multiple full-time residents.

Portability

Some composting toilets are designed for portability, meaning you can take them with you wherever you go. If you are looking for a composting toilet you can take with you on camping trips, or to and from a tiny home, you may want to prioritize portability features, like a lightweight design and easy-grip carrying handles.

Liquid Separation Capabilities

The best composting toilets are able to separate liquids, like urine, from solid waste, as this helps reduce unpleasant odors and prevents the toilet’s reservoir from filling up too quickly. Look for composting toilets that contain liquid and solid waste separately. Typically, the two types of waste will be held in two separate containers, which makes it possible to vent the two types of odors properly.

Review of the Best Composting Toilets

Now that we have explained some of the features you should look out for when you are shopping for a new composting toilet, we can take a look at some options that we consider to be amongst the best on the market today.

Best Overall

Separett Villa 9215 AC/DC

Separett Villa 9215 AC/DC

Specifications

Dimensions: 26.5 x 18 x 21.3″

Weight: 30 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 330 lbs

Waste Tank Capacity: 14.5 liters

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Review

The Villa 9215 composting toilet from Separett is a wall-mounted unit that offers some really useful and practical features. For starters, the built-in fan can be run on just about any type of power supply, which means it is really versatile for a powered composting toilet. It also separates liquid waste from solid waste, which means you can go longer stretches of time without having to empty the solid waste collection area.

What we liked most about this composting toilet is the fact that the fan really helps cut down on odors. It pushes unpleasant scents away from your bathroom, so you do not have to deal with them. It also looks great and many people just assume it is a classic flushing toilet.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a versatile composting toilet that you can permanently install, you should seriously consider the Separett Villa 9215. It is one of the most advanced units on the market today and it does an excellent job of venting odors and managing waste in a sanitary way.

Pros

Backed by a 5-year warranty

Waterless, urine diverting design

Operates on AC, DC, or solar power

Features a single speed fan that is capable of venting up to 20 feet

Separates solid waste from liquid waste, so it does not have to be emptied as often

Cons

The fan creates noticeable noise, which can be annoying if you are in a peaceful spot where you just want to hear the sounds of nature

Best for the Money and Best Portable Composting Toilet

Sun-Mar GTG Toilet

SUN-MAR GTG TOILET | Portable Toilet, Compost Toilet for RV

Specifications

Dimensions: 24 x 15.75 x 19.8″

Weight: 25 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Waste Tank Capacity: 8 liters

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Review

This is one of the most lightweight and compact composting toilets on our list, so it is the ideal choice for those that value portability. It is also available at a very affordable price, which makes it great for those that are on a tight budget.

The toilet has a very simple design, so it is really easy to use and install. Some people find it is a little bit too simple, meaning a more complicated toilet with a trap door would hide unpleasant odors more effectively. However, those that value simplicity and portability will be more than satisfied with the Sun-Mar GTG Composting Toilet.

Bottom Line

This affordable and lightweight composting toilet is perfect for anyone that enjoys exploring the outdoors. It is easy enough to assemble and install, so it is a very practical option for RV enthusiasts, boaters, and even tent campers! If you are looking for something that you can bring with you on your next adventure, you should seriously consider investing in the Sun-Mar GTG Composting Toilet!

Pros

Available at a very budget-friendly price

Built from a durable polyethylene material

Can be installed in minutes without any tools

Incredibly compact design makes it very portable

Effective solid and liquid waste separation system

Cons

No warranty or return policy

Releases more of an odor than other composting toilets on our list

Best Composting Toilet for RV and Off-Grid

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet with Spider Handle

Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet with Close Quarters Spider Handle Design

Specifications

Dimensions: 17.75 x 19 x 21″

Weight: 28 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Waste Tank Capacity: 10 liters

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Review

One of the best things about buying a Nature’s Head composting toilet is the fact that they have one of the best reputations for customer service in the entire industry. Their products just work and this composting toilet is no exception. The rotating spider handle helps agitate the waste, which encourages faster decomposition. The fact it has an extra-large waste reservoir is also helpful, as it means you can go longer without having to empty the toilet, which is part of the reason why it is such a great choice for RVs and off-grid living.

Like their other composting toilets, this model is also available at a budget-friendly price. While we would have preferred a more powerful ventilation fan, this is not the worst thing if you have concerns about noise.

Bottom Line

Overall, this is a really reliable product that is available at a very reasonable price. The 5-year warranty and reliable customer service are a major plus. Those that are looking for a composting toilet for their boat, RV, or off-grid home will really appreciate the overall quality, as well as some of the unique features, like the long-handled agitation wheel.

Pros

5-year warranty

Odor eliminating design

Easy to install and maintain

Outstanding customer support

Large capacity allows for two people to use the toilet for 4 – 6 weeks at a time

Cons

The fan is not very powerful, so venting can be an issue if you install it with a long hose

Smallest Composting Toilet

Camco 41541 Portable Travel Toilet

Camco 41541 Portable Travel Toilet-Designed for Camping, RV, Boating and Other Recreational Activities - 5.3 Gallon , White

Specifications

Dimensions: 14 x 16 x 15.5″

Weight: 10.8 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 330 lbs

Waste Tank Capacity: 5.3 gallons

Fresh Water Tank Capacity: 2.5 gallons

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Review

The Camco 41541 is by far the most compact composting toilet on our list. It was specifically designed for camping, RVing, and boating, which explains why it is so small and lightweight. Given that it only weighs 11.5 lbs, it is a practical option for any situation where you need to transport the toilet from one location to another.

The top half of the tank even holds 2.5 gallons of fresh water, which gives the toilet a unique flushing feature. While this means it is not strictly a composting toilet, it is an effective way to deal with odors.

Bottom Line

If you are in the market for a compact, lightweight toilet that you can use in your RV, boat, or on your next tent camping trip, this unique little toilet from Camco might be just what you are looking for. We were really impressed with the overall build quality, especially given how small it is and its affordable price tag. While it is incredibly small, this little toilet performs its job exceptionally well!

Pros

Has a flushing feature

Incredibly affordable price

Sealing slide valve helps lock in odors and prevents leaks

Incredibly compact, which is really great for camping and other outdoor activities

Sturdy side latches secure the two halves of the toilet, so you do not have to deal with unnecessary smells

Cons

Does not break waste down as quickly or effectively as other composting toilets

Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet

Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet with Standard Crank Handle

Specifications

Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 21″

Weight: 28 lbs

Max Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Waste Tank Capacity: 10 liters

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Review

This composting toilet from Nature’s Head offers some of the best value on the market today. It is a reliable unit, which is partially down to the fact that the design is so simple. It is a self-contained unit that can be installed in minutes. It is fairly lightweight, which makes it a great choice for tiny homes, cabins, workshops, and even boats. What we really liked is how sturdy and solid it is, which is why it is a great choice for areas where it will be exposed to freezing conditions.

While we would have liked if the liquid separator worked a little bit better, it is still a reliable unit that we would recommend to anyone that was in the market for a compact, yet durable composting toilet.

Bottom Line

The Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet is a very capable unit that is available at a reasonable price. It is designed to withstand some really harsh conditions, so you do not have to worry about reliability. It is designed and manufactured in the United States and it is backed by exceptional customer service. Overall, it is a great option!

Pros

Easy to install

5’ venting hose

Made from durable, molded plastic

Built-in hand crank agitator for faster composting

Includes mounting hardware so it can be drilled directly into the floor for stability

Cons

Does not separate urine as well as other units, which can cause an unpleasant ammonia smell

What is a Composting Toilet?

Composting toilets collect human waste and create an environment where decomposition of that waste is accelerated. They do this by drying out the waste, which helps reduce the mass and cuts down on any smells that would be present otherwise. A true composting toilet does not use water to remove waste, as the end goal is to dry the waste out so it disintegrates into a more sanitary and manageable substance.

Once the composting process has occurred, the human waste can be emptied in an off-site location. Some composting toilets will contain microorganisms and drying agents, which helps increase the rate of decomposition.

How Does a Composting Toilet Work?

As mentioned, composting toilets work by relying on the natural, biological process of composting. This process involves the decomposition of organic matter. The human waste that is collected in the toilet dries out and begins to break down until it is an almost soil-like substance. In fact, some people that live in rural areas will even empty their composting toilets in surrounding forests, as it acts as a natural fertilizer for trees and plants.

The exact process your composting toilet will use will depend on the particular make and model, but all of them rely on breaking the waste down into more manageable substances.

Photo credit: compostauthority.com

Composting Toilet Pros and Cons

As with other things, if you’re purchasing a composting toilet for the first time, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. To save you time, below is the list of major pros and cons of this toilet type.

Pros of a Composting Toilet

  • They do not need to be connected to a sewage system, which means they can operate in remote, off-grid locations.

  • Unlike flushing toilets, they do not require water to flush waste away. This means you do not need access to running water to use the toilet. Again, this gives you more freedom and even means they can be used in the winter when you do not have access to unfrozen water.

  • They are very affordable, especially when compared to the costs associated with installing a traditional flushing toilet. They also cost nothing to run. Where septic tanks need to be emptied by a professional on a regular basis, a composting toilet can be emptied by the user easily and at no cost.

  • Composting toilets tend to be far more compact and lightweight than traditional flushing toilets, which makes them practical for boats, RVs, and even tent campers. When weight is a major concern, a composting toilet is almost always the superior choice.
Photo credit: rvweb.net

Cons of a Composting Toilet

  • Some composting toilets can start to smell, which is an unfortunate side effect of the way they hold waste.

  • Many composting toilets use a ventilation hose with a small fan. This fan can be quite loud, which some people find very irritating.

Types of Composting Toilets

There are different types of composting toilets to choose from. To help you decide which is right for you, we are going to explain each variation.

Self-Contained Composting Toilets

These units are installed directly in a bathroom and are available in electric and non-electric varieties. They hold waste in large drums that create the perfect environment for decomposition. They tend to be the most common types of composting toilets and are the simplest to use and install. In most cases, liquid waste is separated from solid waste, which creates an environment that is more conducive to decomposition.

Split System Composting Toilets

These types of composting toilets connect to a system of pipes that take the waste to a large drum or hopper where it can be broken down. Within the large drum, the waste it churned, which allows it to break down faster. It also helps with ventilation.

Flush Composting Toilets

These types of composting toilets are the most unusual. They usually have a flushing feature, which helps wash waste away from the bowl. After the waste has left the bowl, the water, along with any urine, is collected in a separate area where it can be dumped out on a regular basis by the user. These toilets are a bit of a hassle, but some people prefer the flushing feature, as it helps keep the bowl clean and provides a familiar sensation.

Photo credit: absak.com

How Do Composting Toilets Compare to Other Types?

One of the best ways to further understand a concept is by comparison. Here we will discuss how composting toilets differ from other alternatives.

Cassette Toilet vs Composting Toilet

In simple terms, a cassette toilet is simply a small holding tank for waste. It does not help break that waste down, it just holds it until you empty it. For this reason, they tend to be very affordable; however, the cost saving benefits are put into perspective when you realize that cassette toilets are pretty gross to clean and almost always have an unpleasant odor when they are full. If you want some form of a waste management system, but you do not have access to a sewage system or a septic tank, a composting toilet is almost certainly the superior option.

Incinerating Toilet vs Composting Toilet

As the name suggests, incinerating toilets work by burning waste into bacteria-free ash. While both systems operate without water and do a fairly good job of eliminating odors, incinerating toilets require a significant amount of electricity to work.

They also tend to be much more expensive and difficult to install than composting toilets. If you are looking for a simple and affordable solution, a composting toilet will be the better choice. On the other hand, if you are wanting to invest more money and time into a more permanent flushing toilet alternative, an incinerating toilet might be an attractive option.

Dry Flush vs Composting Toilet

 A dry flush toilet works in a similar way to a diaper genie. Essentially, they trap waste in an airtight bag after you press the “flush” button. This helps contain odors associated with the waste and makes it easier to get rid of. Where a composting toilet breaks the waste down, a dry flush toilet simply traps and bags it.

While a dry flush toilet can be useful, the liner bags are an ongoing expense and they can be a little bit unpleasant to dispose of.

Top Brands in the Composting Toilet Space

In order to help you know a little bit more about composting toilets, we are going to highlight some of the best brands in the industry.

Nature’s Head

There is a reason two Nature’s Head composting toilets made our list. For starters, the brand specializes in composting toilets, so they really know what they are doing. Their innovative designs are really popular, especially amongst RV enthusiasts. The brand is best known for its outstanding customer service. In fact, the current CEO is known to address customer concerns personally! The fact they back their products with lengthy warranties is also a testament to their outstanding quality.

Sun-Mar

Sun-Mar is one of the best-selling composting toilet brands in the world. Their simple designs mean that their toilets can be installed easily, even by those with no prior experience. Their composting and waterless toilets are all designed and made in the United States, so it is no surprise that they are always built to an impressive standard.

Separett Compost Toilets

Separett is actually a brand within the Nature’s Head company. Their composting toilets are made to be as convenient and odorless as possible. They are sold throughout North America and are a really popular option amongst those that live off-grid.

Price Points of a Composting Toilet

To help you understand how price can impact quality, we are going to go over some of the main price ranges for composting toilets:

Camco 41541

Under $150

These are considered entry-level composting toilets and usually operate in a very unsophisticated way. They tend to be popular with campers and boaters, as they are not usually adequate as a permanent waste solution, but they can come in handy in situations where you just need a temporary solution.

$150 – $750

These mid-range composting toilets are designed to be semi-permanent fixtures, which makes them a good option for RVs, cabins, workshops, and more. They usually separate solid and liquid waste, which helps with the smell. In most cases, they will be vented, so some of the fumes and odors are carried outside.

Over $750

These composting toilets are fixed toilets that are usually installed to be permanent toilet solutions in places where sewage or septic-based systems are not an option. They usually have high-end features that help accelerate the rate of decomposition, like agitating arms. Most will also have ventilation fans, which help blow fumes and odors outside at a faster rate than a basic ventilation hose. While they can get pretty expensive, most people find they are worth the money if they are going to act as a permanent toilet solution for a location that will be visited often.

Who Should NOT Buy a Composting Toilet?

While composting toilets can be a really practical and useful solution for many different situations, they are not for everyone. Typically, you should not buy a composting toilet if you have access to a septic system or a standard sewage network. This is because these waste disposal systems are almost always less work.

You should also consider an alternative, such as an incinerator toilet if you are looking for a waste solution for your permanent residence, as composting toilets can be a lot of work and tend to fill up rather quickly. Composting toilets can be a real hassle if they are going to be the only toilet for an entire family, as, again, they can fill up quickly, which can be a lot of work.

Certain states also have bylaws considering composting toilet use. This is why it is always important to check the rules and regulations where you live before you install any type of toilet, composting or not.

Photo credit: mowgli-adventures.com

Those that have mobility issues might not enjoy using a composting toilet. Not only are they usually rather low to the ground, which can make them difficult to use, emptying them and performing basic maintenance can be a lot of work. 

You should also consider where you will dispose of the decomposed waste after your composting toilet has done its job. If you live in a more residential area where there is nowhere for you to get rid of the composted human waste, a composting toilet could become a real problem.

Conclusion

Composting toilets offer a dignified alternative to an outhouse or squatting in the woods. If you live in a remote area, or you spend time outdoors camping or exploring in your RV, you may want to consider investing in a composting toilet that appeals to your specific preferences.

Each of the composting toilets we reviewed above was chosen because they are made to a high standard by a brand we feel you can trust. They also offer useful features and plenty of advantages over other composting toilets on the market. Choose the option that appeals to you the most and enjoy the benefits a composting toilet can offer!

People Also Ask

If composting toilets are new to you, no doubt you have a lot of questions. The answers to these frequently asked questions might help you out.

Does a Composting Toilet Smell?

If you buy a high-quality composting toilet and install it correctly, it should not smell too bad. With that being said, they can carry more of an odor than a flushing toilet, but that is no surprise when you consider how they actually work. If the smell is a concern, look for a composting toilet that comes with a ventilation hose and a powered fan, as this will help cut down on any detectable odors.

Can You Pee in a Composting Toilet?

Yes, you can pee in a composting toilet. Most composting toilets are designed to separate urine from solid waste, as this helps with the decomposition process. With that being said, some of the lower quality and more portable composting toilets do not separate the two types of waste. While you can still pee in them, it can mean they need to be emptied more frequently.

Are Composting Toilets Hard to Maintain?

Composting toilets are not too difficult to maintain; however, it can be a little bit tricky at first. The best thing to do is read the instruction manual for the particular type of composting toilet you have purchased and make sure that you follow those instructions regularly. 

Do You Flush a Composting Toilet?

No, you do not flush a composting toilet. While there are some hybrid toilets that do have a flushing feature, these are not true composting toilets. In most cases, you simply close the lid and the toilet does the rest.

Is a Composting Toilet Worth It?

A composting toilet can certainly be worth the cost if you are in a location where it is a practical waste management solution. In most cases, the cost of a composting toilet will justify itself just from the convenience it will offer.

How Long Does It Take for a Composting Toilet to Empty?

In most cases, you can empty a composting toilet in as little as 15 minutes. Considering that you only have to do so once every week or so, it certainly beats squatting in the woods, especially during the winter months!

How Often Do You Clean a Composting Toilet?

Some people will thoroughly clean their composting toilet every other time it is emptied. This helps keep the toilet sanitary and it can help cut down on unpleasant odors. Read the instruction manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for a cleaning schedule with your particular toilet.

Are Composting Toilets Legal?

Yes, composting toilets are legal; however, certain states, counties, and towns will have zoning regulations regarding where they are legal to use. If you are in a rural or remote area, there is a really high chance that a composting toilet will be perfectly legal where you reside. The best thing to do is simply look up the rules regarding composting toilets in your area and abide by those rules.

Welcome! We hope you’ll find the job costs of home improvement projects useful when you’re deciding whether to do a job yourself vs. hire a contractor. We’re the authors of 20 home improvement books, most notably Home Improvement for Dummies©, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies©, Carpentry for Dummies©, Plumbing for Dummies©, and Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies©. Our most recent book Fix It and Flip It is in its second edition. We’ve appeared as home improvement experts on television programs such as CNN, Dateline, the Today Show, HGTV and many others.